Country's Longest-Serving Student Newspaper Sex Columnist Quits Due to 'Biting' Reader Comments

The longtime writer of The Daily Barometer sex column at Oregon State University is calling it quits, citing increasingly mean-spirited reader feedback as the main reason for her decision.

Kathy Greaves, a human sexuality instructor at OSU for two decades and counting, has written the weekly sex-and-health-themed Barometer column "Ask Dr. Sex" for more than 15 years. She considers it "a service to the university." This past semester alone, she wrote about topics ranging from oral sex, safe sex and anal sex to sex toys, calcified fetuses and sexual role reversal.

Greaves is undoubtedly the country's longest-serving student newspaper sex columnist, most likely of all time or at the very least since the columns began appearing en masse in their current form in the mid-1990s. As the author of a book on the student press sexual explosion, I can think of only two sex columns which have appeared longer continuously -- Roxy Sass in The Stanford Daily (which appears to have been discontinued early last year) and Sex on Tuesday in The Daily Californian. Both of those columns are typically tackled by a new student each semester or academic year. By comparison, Greaves has written her column nonstop since roughly the turn of the century.

She has kept with the column for so long, in part, to open the eyes and expand the knowledge bases of students who, she says, "received, at best, an inadequate sexuality education in high school or at home, and at worst, no sexuality education to speak of."

Yet, in a farewell column published Tuesday, Greaves confirmed she has grown tired of student readers and others who were speaking out -- and from her view, out of turn -- much more often against her Barometer work and her sexual health credentials.

As she explained:

"For the past 15 plus years, I wrote this weekly column and consequently I opened myself up to the comments and critiques of the public. Unfortunately, there have been some readers who don't think my 20 years of teaching human sexuality at Oregon State University and 25 years of studying it put me in a position to know much of anything. This year, the comments have been particularly biting. It actually seems to be a growing trend lately for readers to be highly critical of columnists -- even those syndicated in major publications. ... It's 'a kill the messenger for the message' scenario -- and some commenters even bully and threaten columnists. If writing was my career and I was a syndicated columnist, I guess I would put up with the criticism and see it as a pitfall of the job. But alas, writing is not my career."

It's unclear if the biting comments to which Greaves refers have been delivered beneath her column online, via letters to the editor, on social media or through private emails or other messages sent directly to her.

In a Facebook post promoting the final installment of her column, the Barometer hyped the link with the accompanying hashtag #gonenotforgotten.

The close of the column: "Some of you may remember OSU's motto from about a decade ago: 'Open minds. Open doors.' My advice moving forward is to open your mind beyond your comfort zone. Have a great summer and be safe while having a hell of a lot of fun."